I made a new friend recently and quite unexpectedly. I’ll call him Andrew. He is an afternoon security guard in downtown St. Paul. I pass him each day I leave the office, as he is responsible for the skyway connected to my parking garage.

It started with me initiating a simple hello. I don’t typically engage strangers, but Andrew made it relatively easy. He carries an inviting countenance that calms the reservations of even the most circumspect. These simple salutations quickly progressed into short but pleasant exchanges.

Given my personality, forming such an acquaintance was a major milestone for me. I was rather happy with myself and quite content with what had been established. The sentiment was short-lived, however. It wasn’t long before an all-too-familiar nudge appeared. It’s this irrepressible sense that the Lord was about to push me outside of my comfort level. And that’s exactly what happened. I could sense He wanted me to deepen my level of engagement with Andrew, prompting me to further pursue this man and hear his story.

Not surprising, it was an unsettling proposition. As far as I can recall, I’ve never tried to form an actual friendship with a complete stranger before. I’m a card-carrying introvert; this is not what we do. After all, what would Andrew think? Would he take me as some type of creepy stalker? What if he rejected my invitation? Even worse, what if he accepted?

Unlike similar callings in the past, I couldn’t shake this one. It hit me in a way that precluded me from ignoring. And by God’s grace, I didn’t. My desire to obey Him on this one conquered my desire to play it safe. I was now in new territory, though, and had little choice but to trust that Jesus would give me the strength. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, ESV).

There was a tactical problem, however. I was a bit baffled as to what the next step should be. Simply proclaiming that I wanted to befriend Andrew and invite him into my life would probably be viewed as both presumptuous and distasteful. Then it dawned on me. What better way to begin building trust than food. For the next several weeks, I would bring him a treat each day. It was usually nothing more than a pastry or box of candy. Regardless of the gifts, the fact that He graciously received them was an encouraging sign. I was one step closer to taking what would be the pivotal step in my pursuit: asking him to have lunch with me.

That day arrived soon enough. I gave him the usual gift (a box of candy in this instance) but added a sticky note. On it I wrote my name, cell number, and a short message about meeting for lunch. He thanked me as usual and nodded when I quickly mentioned getting together. Expecting he would send a text message that evening yet, I received nothing. I went to bed that night wondering if I had moved too fast.

I hadn’t. The next morning I woke to a text from Andrew. He had enthusiastically accepted. His message surprised me, but my response to his message surprised me even more. Rather than being anxious about the now confirmed lunch, I was both calm and excited. The Lord was clearly at work.

The lunch was wonderful. We spent a good hour just getting to know each other. I began to learn his story and he mine. There were many parallels, particularly our respective seasons of struggle. Powered by the Holy Spirit, I used these shared experiences to introduce him to Jesus towards the end of our time together. He politely listened, and we parted ways.
I don’t know whether Andrew will surrender his life to Christ. What I do know is that I will continue to grow the relationship and share the glories of my Savior. May His irresistible grace become just that for my new friend.

There are many hurting, lost people amongst us. Souls who need Jesus. Believer, I implore you to pursue them as Christ pursued you. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5, ESV). If you don’t already have an individual in mind, please fervently pray that the Lord would reveal someone. And then be obedient to the calling. The Lord will empower you to be a conduit of His rich mercy and great love. You will both bless and be blessed.

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